Gladstone seat now back in play, expert says
THE LNP party machine has been caught off guard by Gladstone MP Liz Cunningham's decision to stand down from state politics.
That's the view of University of Queensland political specialist Dr Ian Ward.
Gladstone is one of three electorates in the state still without a confirmed LNP candidate ahead of the January 31 election announced on Tuesday.
Dr Ward said he was not surprised the LNP had considered the Gladstone seat low priority while Mrs Cunningham was a potential candidate.
"(But) suddenly, with Mrs Cunningham's decision to stand down, the seat is potentially back in play," he told The Observer.
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He said the party's apparent disinterest in the seat was puzzling, given the fact that the government was expecting a large dollop of revenue from royalties gained from the burgeoning LNG industry.
"At this stage we can only guess what the (election) field will look like, but it's all changed now with Mrs Cunningham not in the hunt for the seat."
LNP state director Brad Henderson said his party would announce a candidate for Gladstone in coming days.
An email response to the Observer on Tuesday stated the following:
"The LNP recognises Gladstone as a highly important region for Queensland and great contributor to Queensland's economy.
"The Newman LNP government's plan to continue building a strong four-pillar economy will provide increased benefits for the people of Gladstone through more job creation and infrastructure."
Meanwhile, Labor candidate - and the only candidate to so far stand for the seat - Glenn Butcher said since the announcement of yesterday's election his phone hadn't stopped ringing.
"I had my first call at 4am," he said.
When news broke of Liz Cunningham's resignation Mr Butcher, a maintenance superintendent at QAL, said it was bittersweet.
"It's been a long time coming and it's obviously good for me," he said.
"I plan on pushing on with the big issues and replicate what Liz has driven within the community but you have to have the backing to do so."
What do you see as the main election issues in Gladstone?
This poll ended on 30 January 2015.
Lease of Gladstone port
Cost of living
Getting funding from Royalties for Regions
This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.
Mr Butcher said he would campaign on issues he felt would most benefit the community.
"The bread and butter of my campaign is obviously to stop the lease of the port and Annastacia Palaszczuk has already vowed to be a part of this," he said.
"I really want to sink my teeth into the hospital issue too."
A spokesman for Katter's Australian Party said the party would not contest Gladstone.
Who's running for Gladstone:
- Labor candidate Glenn Butcher
- An independent - to be announced at 1pm today
- A Greens candidate is "highly likely"
- PUP: Unknown
- KAP: None